FORT DRUM, N.Y. (April 28, 2021) -- Fort Drum’s top volunteers received some well-deserved recognition for their selfless service and sacrifice to the community during the annual Volunteer of the Year Awards ceremony April 27 at the Commons.
“Volunteer accomplishments enhance Soldier readiness and family support,” said Dani Reed, Fort Drum Army Volunteer Corps program manager. “Through their dedicated service, volunteers transform military installations into communities. Our volunteers truly make the Fort Drum community a better place to live and work.”
Fort Drum’s volunteer community recorded 38,433 hours of service into the Volunteer Management Information System last fiscal year. This equates to a monetary value of nearly $1.1 million.
Maj. Gen. Brian J. Mennes, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, joined Col. Jeffery Lucas, Fort Drum garrison commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Roberto Munoz, garrison senior enlisted adviser, in presenting the awards.
Mennes said that volunteers enrich the lives of everyone around them with their spirit of giving and they serve as the heart of the military community.
“I’m really grateful to stand amongst you today to celebrate volunteerism on our great installation,” Mennes said. “The spirit of volunteerism here is awesome, and I’m really humbled to serve with folks who represent the true essence of humility, honor and selfless service.”
Nominations for Volunteer of the Year were received from units and organizations throughout Fort Drum and were separated into five categories for evaluation: Soldier and Family Readiness Groups, Large Community Groups, Small Community Groups, and Child and Youth Groups.
Soldier and Family Readiness Group nominees:
Leigh Feathers, Sgt. Theodore McNatt, Ashley Arnold, Catherine Carlton, Jawnie Holsker, Stephanie Barksdale, Carolyn Tee, Kaitlin Kukendall, Shanice Kubler, Anya Cobb, Peggy Holcombe, Kerry Bennett, Emily Riley, Amanda Neutkens, Charlene Terrigno, Hazel McIntire, Alisha Sinitiere, Sgt. Adam Oberline and Sgt. Marissa Kirian.
Amanda Neutkens was named Soldier and Family Readiness Group Volunteer of the Year. As the SFRG leader for C Company, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, she supported every battalion function and volunteered to serve as company lead planner at countless events.
Neutkens made the holidays special for service members by contributing homemade dishes for a Thanksgiving feast to support nearly 180 Soldiers in the barracks, and she also baked cookies for hundreds of Soldiers and built a helicopter display for the unit’s Christmas celebration.
Neutkens supported expectant mothers in the company, providing more than a dozen this past year with a care package that included an embroidered blanket and certificate with “baby orders.”
She also dedicates time and resources to various community and religious organization, including teaching a weekly class at a community homeschool co-op. She volunteers to play music at her local church and cooks meals and provides assistance to families in her church during times of need.
Child and Youth Group nominees:
Tiffiny Butler and Capt. Evonnie Alvarado
Capt. Evonnie Alvarado was named Child and Youth Group Volunteer of the Year for her exceptional performance as den leader, virtual camp staff member, day camp staff member and popcorn leader with Cub Scout Pack 26.
Although her den was one of the smallest in the Pack, it was the top participating den during the popcorn fundraiser, and one of her Cub Scouts was among the top five sellers. Collectively, the den contributed nearly one-third of all sales to ensure the Pack is fully funded for another year.
During the first Council Cub Scout Virtual Camp, Alvarado served as a den leader and developed a hybrid model of teaching that incorporated hands-on activities in a virtual environment. During the fall camp, she assisted in coordinating events that met all COVID-19 safety protocols while helping Scouts meet den requirements. Her den adopted the SPCA as their community partner, and Scouts were trained as volunteers to perform various activities with their parents.
Small Community Group nominees:
Genevieve Kruger and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Yolanda Peterson.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Yolanda Peterson earned the Small Community Group Volunteer of the Year, serving as president of the Thousand Island Warrant Officer Association since 2019. In that capacity, she has coordinated more than 150 comfort care packages for Walker Cancer Center patients.
Under her leadership, the chapter supports local elementary schools and food pantries, and she has proven to be a valuable mentor to others. Her ability to motivate and inspire has achieved positive results, which has allowed the chapter to support and sponsor more than 25 events within the Fort Drum, Watertown and Sackets Harbor communities.
Large Community Group nominees:
Joshua Schybert and Pat Wadlington
Pat Wadlington was named Large Community Group Volunteer of the Year for her service to the Fort Drum Religious Support Office. She is known as the go-to person in the office and subject-matter expert when questions arise. Wadlington contributed nearly 500 hours of essential support in the post’s chapels that help Soldiers and family members to stay resilient and steeped in hope during these difficult times.
Youth Volunteer of the Year nominee:
Crixus Good was named Youth Volunteer of the Year. As a member of Cub Scout Pack 26, Crixus was commended for his exceptional performance as a Wolf and Bear Scout in 2020. He was the top popcorn seller for the Pack, and he was among the top Scouts during the inaugural Scout Freedom Ruck-A-Thon.
Crixus assumed a leadership role in all camps and assisted during night hikes, camp cooking and snowshoe hikes. He earned the 100-mile hike award, only the second Scout in the history of the Pack to accomplish this in a single year.
He is the third Scout in the Pack, and third in the District, to earn the Dr. Luis W. Alvarez Supernova Award.
Installation Volunteer of the Year:
Amanda Neutkens was named the overall Volunteer of the Year for fiscal year 2020.
“We all know, and especially the volunteers that were recognized here today, that our Soldiers are only as strong as their families,” she said. “And it’s truly been my honor to serve those families and to help make our Army stronger.”
Neutkens said that she wanted to make the most of her time as a SFRG leader, knowing that it is not a longstanding position.
“You make the time for what you care about, and being able to dedicate my time to helping Soldiers and families is what I really wanted to do with my time,” she said. “Because, honestly, you serve as SFRG leader for a short period time, and then it’s over.”
Neutkens served nine years as an Army MEDEVAC pilot, and she said that she began volunteering when she was a lieutenant.
“I started volunteering at the lowest unit level, participating in our Soldier and Family Readiness Group,” she said. “That got me in the door, and I just continued with it. I think it’s important that, wherever you are, you start at the lowest unit level and work your way up.”
Lt. Col. Ryan Hanrahan, 3-10 GSAB commander, said it was an honor to nominate Neutkens for the award.
“She is dedicated to unit, contributes to the community, has a unique ability to bring people together and, lastly, she builds teams to support Soldiers and their families,” he said. “She is a rock star for my organization and has truly touched countless lives here at Fort Drum and the surrounding community.”